The IDF hosted dozens of foreign delegates last week for the third International Military Doctrine conference, which focused on mission command.
The weeklong conference in central Israel was put on by the Ground Forces Doctrine Branch and the Foreign Relations Branch. Sixty delegates from 30 armies attended, including Germany, the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, Finland and the Philippines.
“They have a great reason to come here,” Lt.-Col. Tsach Moshe, head of the IDF’s Ground Force’s Doctrine Branch, told The Jerusalem Post. The conference allowed officers from the various forces to share knowledge about common issues and threats, he said.
“These countries came here because they understand that the IDF is a very well-experienced army,” Moshe said. “They want to hear from us and hear from other countries. Most of the countries are in NATO. But they always say that when they come here, which is not in a NATO environment, they can hear about so many issues from a different perspective.”
Israel’s relationship with NATO is defined as a partnership, and the country has been a member of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue since it was initiated in 1994 along with six other non-NATO Mediterranean countries: Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.
The conference provides the proper environment to share ideas between forces and allows Israel to hear the various perspectives from the visiting officers all holding the ranks of colonel and lieutenant colonel, Moshe said.
Israel was also able to learn about the capabilities that enemy forces are using on the battlefields across the globe such as drones – a platform that Israel’s enemies have also been using against IDF forces both on the northern and southern fronts, he said.
“What’s the most important for us, and probably for all of us, is to hold discussions around a main issue that allows us to take the experience of other armies on the battlefield and study it and not to wait until the issues come to the Middle East,” Moshe said, adding that Israel must “try to anticipate and learn” instead of staying static and focusing solely on regional issues.
“You can always just stay here and learn lessons from what’s going on here,” he said. “But it’s smarter to go and see what’s going on the other side of the world, for example, to understand what the Americans or Germans are learning.”
“We always want to expand our knowledge,” Moshe said, adding that in addition to teaching troops what they have learned, the IDF is writing and embedding the lesson learned into its military doctrine.
The IDF has implemented several aspects learned over the course of the two previous conferences, including a logistic battalion at the brigade level, which it learned from the Dutch army two years ago, Moshe told the Post.
“There are service battalions around the world, but we figured out that the specific one we wanted to build was exactly the same as the Dutch armed forces,” he said. “We started talking to the Dutch army during the first conference and found out they have the very same process, and we took part of their idea and implemented it in our doctrine.”
Another example was working with the British armed forces and incorporating their tactical war-games methods into the IDF’s doctrine, Moshe said.
“During the second conference, we heard that the Brits have a great concept for tactical war-gaming methods,” he said. “We sent a delegation to the British army, and we learned about the idea from there... The British army has a lot of things we want to learn from, including multidimensional maneuvering systems, like what we want to do. They have a lot of knowledge.”
The conference has grown significantly since the first one, which had 18 delegates, and that it helps to strengthen ties and relationships between the various forces, Moshe told the Post.
“This time there were 60 delegates participating, 45 from abroad and 15 from Israel,” he said. “It’s become something really big.”
Nevertheless, Moshe said he does not expect the conference to expand in the coming years. But if other military are interested in attending, “they are invited,” he said.